EP #28

Waiting Until You Are Ready to Change your Relationship with Alcohol

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In Episode 28 of “Breaking the Bottle Legacy,” Molly shares insights from her experience in intentionally spacing out drinks during social occasions, highlighting the subtle and lasting positive effects of a soft buzz from a single drink. The episode focuses on the pivotal moment when individuals contemplate changing their relationship with alcohol and addresses common thoughts that might hinder such a decision. Molly challenges the notion of waiting for the “right time” or using external circumstances as excuses, emphasizing the urgency of starting the change process immediately. Drawing from a variety of sources, including the book “Changing to Thrive” and the podcast “Primal Potential,” she provides tools for self-reflection and encourages listeners to recognize and challenge thought patterns that hinder progress. Molly dismantles the idea of Monday as an ideal starting point, exposing it as a delay tactic, and she underscores the importance of realizing that readiness for change is not a prerequisite. The episode concludes with a focus on managing stress, debunking time-related excuses, and embracing a forward-focused mindset, stressing that the past does not define one’s ability to transform.

You’re listening to breaking the bottle legacy with Molly watts, Episode 28. Hi, I’m Molly, after a lifetime living under the influence of family alcohol abuse, spending more than 30 years worrying about alcohol and my own drinking, believing I had an unbreakable daily drinking habit, I changed my relationship with alcohol forever. If you want to change your drinking habits than breaking the bottle legacy is for you. My goal is to help you create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, past, present, and future. Each week all focus on real science and using your own brain to change your relationship with alcohol. Nothing has gone wrong, you’re not broken. You’re not sick. It’s not your genes. And creating peace is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Hello, and welcome or welcome back to breaking the bottle legacy with me your host Molly watts, coming to you from an absolutely steaming Oregon. It has been hot this week. And it’s going to be even hotter if the weather guys are right. I don’t believe the most of the time here in Oregon because they get it wrong about 90% of the time but right now, it is looking like we are going to have oh, I don’t know 106 degrees this weekend. What the heck, what’s that all about in June. Anyway, I still like it warmer than better than rain. So I’m trying not to complain about the about the hot, but it’s definitely heating up here in Oregon this week. So I wanted to share with you something that one of my members of my private Facebook group alcohol minimalists, change your alcohol habits shared in our group and I just loved it. Here is what Cindy shared, she said. I have had two drinks on Friday night only, ie every other day of the week is alcohol free for several months, I spaced out the time between the drinks to at least an hour or two. At first this was hard because my habit brain immediately wanted to say yes, when the waiter asked if I would like another. However, what I’ve noticed from this intentional spacing is the soft buzz from one drink is actually so nice and lasting. It’s mellow and actually does the thing that I think could be the positive effect of drinking socially. I realized that my tolerance has gone way down to after having so much time alcohol free. However, this has been a new realization, both not craving a second drink immediately, and learning to enjoy just one. It’s been a wonderful revelation. She goes on to say it’s interesting. A lot of my reading about alcohol, especially the scientific slant, understanding books or podcasts, etc. have given me the impression that having just one is difficult for physiological reasons. I’m not finding that to be the case, though. Like everything else with alcohol so far. It’s a thought, feeling action situation. If I just give myself the opportunity to examine my thoughts, and then make a choice of how to respond. It’s totally possible to have one and then be perfectly fine without having another. I get it that alcohol lowers your inhibitions. That’s why people like she says, but making a plan beforehand to examine the thoughts after that last sip has been a game changer. Oh, there’s so much about Cindy’s stories and thought here that I love. She’s making a plan ahead of time. Love it. She’s making a plan ahead of time for what will happen when her habit brain wants to change the plan. And she’s seeing how her thoughts lead to her feelings that drive her actions. Plus, she’s figured out that she absolutely can have just a drink without it being a struggle. And she can really enjoy just one as I told her that is true alcohol minimalist behavior right there. And it’s just awesome. Congrats, Cindy, and thanks for sharing. If you’d like to join us over in the private group, it’s totally searchable, but no one has to know you’re in there. Just head over to Facebook and search alcohol minimalists. And of course, I’ll put a link in the show notes as well. So today on the podcast, I wanted to talk to you about when you’re going to start changing your relationship with alcohol and some of the thoughts that you might be having on why now isn’t a good time. Specifically, we’ll talk about three types of thoughts procrastinator thoughts, overwhelmed busy thoughts and past focused thoughts. Before we talk about all those, I want to acknowledge something. We’re kind of coming out of COVID-19. Right, I think it’s fair to say that we can see a light at the end of the COVID tunnel. And for many people COVID was the reason that they gave themselves for drinking more. In fact, it’s well covered territory. But here in the US, both men and women increased their alcohol consumption during COVID-19. And in fact, women reported a 41% increase in binging days, which as a reminder, ladies is four or more drinks in one day. So it’s, it’s true, right? We drank more during COVID. Whether or not it was just an excuse to drink more, or an inevitable reaction to a very high stress situation for people who were using alcohol already as a coping strategy. Many of us drink more during COVID. And maybe, you know, that was you, and you are now here trying to reset and that is totally great. I think there’s value in talking about the mindset that a lot of people had during COVID, about drinking or eating, or shopping or Doom, scrolling, whatever unhealthy things that people might have been through doing during lockdown. We can look at it and understand it with compassion and curiosity. I know for the vast majority of people changing those behaviors during COVID felt like a really big obstacle. The thoughts were much more along the lines of I’ll get back to being healthy when things are back to normal, quote unquote, life during the pandemic was just too overwhelming to think about doing something else hard, like changing your alcohol habits. And I totally get it. The global pandemic was and is a world changing, life changing event that hopefully we will never have to repeat again in our lifetimes. It created monumentally hard life situations for a lot of people. And truly, some days just getting through was the very best we could hope for. So this episode isn’t going to be about why didn’t you change your life, or your relationship with alcohol, or anything else during COVID. But if like other people, you found yourself drinking more during COVID. And you’re still thinking about changing your drinking habits, but not taking more actions in that direction. This episode might help. This episode is going to be all about the notion of waiting until you feel more ready. And that’s what I want to talk to you about. Before we dive into that, I want to remind you about a great resource on change that I shared with you recently in Episode 24. It was the book changing to thrive with doctors Jim and Janice Prochaska. If you’re struggling getting started changing a negative habit like drinking or smoking or overeating, that book will help you understand some of the patterns of thinking that you need to work through to be a successful self changer. Still love self change or using it. Some of the thoughts we’re talking about here today come up in the early stages of change which in the book they they note as pre contemplation and contemplation. And the key is to really recognize these thoughts start challenging the thoughts to move into preparation and action, which are further down the lines of the stages of change. Hopefully, if you uncover some of the thoughts I’m going to be talking about we can recognize them and change the thoughts so we can work on changing the actions. Okay, I learned this quote from one of the podcasts that I really liked and listened to. It’s called Primal potential with Elizabeth Benton, who also wrote the book chasing cupcakes, which I love. And I’ll share both of those in the show notes. Anyway, this episode was called making big scary changes more easily. And when Elizabeth shared it on her Facebook group, she tied in this quote from James James clear who if you’ve listened to this podcast or my other podcasts, you know, I also love and the quote was this. If you were ready for it, it wouldn’t be called growth. That’s from James clear. How many of us are still hoping that someday sometime we’re going to feel more ready to change our drinking habits. Maybe you’ve even thought that wonderful thought of when things get worse. Or when I hit rock bottom. I’ll be motivated to change. Well, I have news for you. There’s never going to be a better time and you certainly don’t want to wait until Monday next week or rock bottom to start changing your relationship with alcohol. These are all kind of thoughts that I call procrastinator thoughts. They stem from the I’ll start my diet on One day mentality. And those kinds of thoughts keep us stuck in our negative habits and not living our best lives. Let’s remember what we know about the results cycle. And for a moment, I want to focus, I want you to focus on the right end of the results cycle, if you picture it in your brain like I do, at the far right end, basically, at the end of the equation, after the equal sign is our results that we have in our lives. No matter what you’ve got going on in your life right now. Those are the results you have, because of the thoughts that creates your feelings, which lead to your actions or inactions, and then they equal the results that you have right now. Even if you are unaware of the thoughts, what the thoughts are, you’re absolutely getting the result in your hat you have in your life because of the results cycle. And, again, Episode 13. If you want to go a little bit deeper into what the result cycle is, I have a little exercise for you today, I don’t want you to do this if you’re if you’re having trouble uncovering your thoughts and feelings, or if you’re having trouble understanding how your actions are getting the results that you have in your life. I want you to do this, go back and look at the last 24 hours of your life. Just the last day. Take it right from the beginning. After you woke up. What did you do? Why did you do it? Okay, so understand, look at what you did, and then figure out why you did it. Look at every single step of the day. For me, it might look look, it might look like this, woke up 5:50am Why I like getting up early to get things done before I go to work. I can dig further into that by asking myself why why do things before work? I found that if I wait until after work, I’m less likely to exercise. Okay, why exercise? It’s important to me to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Why? Why is it important? I want to be able to enjoy my life for as long as possible and believe being healthy will help me do it. What result overall do I have in my life, I exercise consistently each morning. So you can work backwards from the actions in your life or the results that you have to look for thoughts and feelings. And they are absolutely there. And it’s a great practice, just in understanding the results cycle. And you can apply it then to as so that’s just one thing I did in the morning, right? That’s just getting up in the morning and going out for my walk. And I would I could keep going throughout my day, right. And even if you get to the end of the day, and you get to the part where you after work, decide to have a couple of drinks, you can figure out why you did it. What you were thinking. And if you didn’t drink? Why not? What were you doing? What were you thinking? All right, and then you will see the patterns of how this works in your life. If you aren’t taking the actions you want to take, there are definitely thoughts and feelings that are leading you there. Can you find them? Write them down so you can work on changing those thoughts. All right. Back to procrastinator thoughts. I feel like I procrastinate. I’m really not. But anyway, I think I probably said I’ll start on Monday, like on most Fridays for decades. And it wasn’t just about drinking, it was also often about dieting, because of course the weekends are for letting go right and having fun. So the thought I’ll start on Monday, and I’ll start again on Monday, I would probably be rich if I had a penny for every time I set those words in my life. And what I failed to notice, and I actually heard Rachel Hart talk about this on one of her podcasts, which I’ll also link in my show notes, is the idea that when we think all start on Monday, for our brains, it’s like a almost a perfect thought for keeping us stuck in our negative habits. Here’s why. All start on Monday, lets you continue to seek whatever reward you were going after in the moment. It allows us to get the pleasure that our you know, limbic system and our lower primitive brains have associated with alcohol, food, overspending, etc, whatever. And it also allows us to avoid the pain or discomfort that we associate with changing our habit. So remember, our primitive brain is designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain and to do that as efficiently as possible. So this one thought is very efficient in both ways to allow us to seek pleasure and avoid pain. And here’s another implication of the thought. I’ll start on Monday. Okay, it sounds like you’re trying to trick your brain into believing that there’s something important or special or different about Monday than today. And of course for all of us who have tried that thought For years and years, we know there’s absolutely nothing different about Monday. You’re not going to be different, you’re not going to feel different. No day of the week, no week of the year, no time is different unless we have different thoughts about it. Now I fall victim into this mental mentality still today, we put a lot of emphasis as a society on Monday. It’s the beginning of new week, it’s back to work. It’s hashtag Motivation Monday. And don’t get me wrong. I like that feeling of being motivated. And I find thoughts to help me feel good about the week ahead. But I want you to be honest with yourselves and ask you if your ask yourself, if you’re still using using the notion of waiting until Monday, to start changing your relationship with alcohol. If you are you want to understand what is really happening is it’s just a delay tactic and a wasted opportunity to start creating change in your life right now. When you start hearing yourself with a thought like, I’ll start again on Monday, you need to recognize it right there and say, That’s just one of those crappy old thoughts that keeps me from changing. Alright, another thought I often hear from people when they’re not ready, quote, unquote, to change their drinking habit is that they’re focused on why the change is hard for them. Specifically, this line of thinking comes straight from procrastinator or excuse Central, and it’s generally speaking, just a lot of self indulgent self pity. Thoughts like, Why does my husband not struggle with his drinking? Why is this so hard for me? Why is my life so stressful? I’ve always used alcohol to help me unwind, and it’s just hard for me to not want to. Now recently on the podcast back in episode 26, I talked about six keys to changing your relationship with alcohol. And the number one, I said that change is simple, but it’s not easy. So there’s a difference between change being not easy and never trying to change, because you talk yourself out of it before you even begin. These kinds of procrastinator excuse thoughts are super discouraging. And they’re just a major waste of time. But the thing is, and I have a newsflash here for you, people, your lives, stress your poor decisions in the past, your friends, your family, none of them are why you’re not ready to change your drinking. If you keep telling yourself the same crappy thoughts that you’ve been using for years, that have never resulted in changing your drinking habits, then you will never be ready to change your relationship with alcohol once and for all. You have to quit telling yourself that you’re not ready and believe that you are capable of changing your life, no matter what’s going on around you that it’s hard for me thought is not a truth. It’s just a thought that you’ve practiced for so long that you believe it to be true. I also want you to understand that you will never start to change if you keep waiting to feel ready. If you are waiting to feel confident, like you are sure that it’s going to work. If you’re waiting until you figure out exactly what will work for you before you ever start. And you are questioning and doubting the process I’ve shared that I’ve shared with you. If you keep asking people and staying stuck in confusion and overwhelm, instead of taking any action, you will never quote unquote, be ready. You have to start take one small action. Commit to planning ahead for one day. Start and don’t keep waiting to feel confident. Doubt is normal start anyway. All right, another type of thought, the busy thoughts? How many of you have busy lives? Let’s talk about the not being ready to change because we’re simply too busy. I’ve said this before myself, truly. And I just wanted to wait until things calm down a little. Right. And it wasn’t even close to being during to do being during a pandemic. So that’s pretty funny. I think that may be one of the best things to come out of COVID is a big giant dose of perspective. Truly, right. I’m not going down the COVID Rabbit Hole, I promise okay. People say they are not ready to change their relationship with alcohol because they just don’t have time to work on it. And it’s just something else to add to a very long to do list in their minds. So planning ahead, you know, writing it down like I suggest reflecting on Off Plan, drinking days, again, writing it down, educating yourself on the science of alcohol and engaging with a community or a tribe for support. That just sounds like too much to do for people. Right? Well, let’s break it down, I’m gonna guess that they’re at total max, it’s probably at the, at the peak, you could spend an hour a day. And that’s including 30 minutes of educating yourself on the science part, which can be accomplished by listening to a podcast or an audio book while you’re doing something else like exercise. So it’s not like a dedicated 30 minutes. And it’s not something you’re gonna have to do forever and ever. And you won’t need to spend an hour every day forever. As I just said, on on a lot of days for me, now I make a plan, I stick to it. And I check in with my tribe. So I probably spend about 15 minutes max, right? Here’s the thing when you start feeling a difference, which you will pretty quickly, especially when you start really noticing the results cycle at work in your life, and you start getting better results because you are thinking better thoughts and creating feelings that are helping you take better actions, you will want to keep doing it and applying that to all areas of your life. Use your relationship with alcohol to empower you. You can choose other areas of your life you want to work on and see different results there too. Wouldn’t it be better during times when life feels too busy and overwhelming to feel empowered and strong? Getting your drinking habits into a calm and healthy place? Creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol helps you improve other areas of your life to Okay, the last kind of thought I want to help you recognize as one that might be holding you back and making you feel not ready to change is something I call past focused thoughts. I was listening to an audiobook recently, my second time through the book called personality isn’t permanent. And I will link that in my show notes as well. And I heard something the author said right in the beginning of the book, which really caught my attention this time, your past is not the prologue. Here’s what Dr. Benjamin Hardy says. He says the only thing special about those who transform themselves and their lives is their view of the future. They refuse to be defined by the past, they see something different and more meaningful, and they never stopped fueling that vision. Every single day. They maintain their vision of faith and hope and take courageous steps in that direction, accompanied by much failure and pain. With each step forward, their competence increases and their identity becomes more flexible and less constrained by what was. On the flip side, people who remained stuck do so because they believe that their pasts have led them to make the decisions they make, as if they have no agency in their own lives. People use the past as the excuse to remain stuck in habits and attitudes that keep them from growing. People use the past as the reason for previous and continued missteps. But as you can probably ascertain from this book, when you read it, you will understand that your past is not the defining feature of who you are. You are not caused by your past, the most successful people in the world base their internal narrative and their identity on their future, not their past. That’s from personality isn’t permanent, and I will link it. I know for me and many other adult children of alcoholics being able to shift my focus to the future took a lot of intention. Especially at midlife, I was tempted to look backward with regret, like all the time, like how come I couldn’t have understood all this earlier. But here’s the truth about changing my relationship with alcohol. It wasn’t too late. I had a peaceful and bright future ahead of me. And it was completely worth the work to change my focus. I also had to stop looking backwards because all that was behind me was a lot of effort, evidence that proved to me that I couldn’t change. And I had to question all of that about the past and reframe it so I could believe that I before I just never had the right tools. I could keep working. I learned the BA the behavior map results cycle and started applying it and I absolutely could be successful. Continuing to look backwards was never going to allow me To change, and deciding and choosing to focus on the future, using the result cycle to intentionally direct my life towards a different future was everything for me. And it’s possible for you to let go of your past and choose to focus on the future. If you’re having thoughts that you’re not ready, I want you to dig a little deeper, and see if any of the thoughts are the procrastinator type, the overwhelm busy type, or if they’re believing in the past your past variety, and let’s work on changing those thoughts and taking different actions. Write the thoughts down so you can see them and become aware of them. We can’t change what we can’t see. Once you see the thoughts, it’s time to start practicing new ones. So you can feel motivated to take different actions and get the results you want in your life. Elizabeth Benton and her podcast uses a phrase I love it’s transformation is now and I even used a phrase like that at the end of my podcast because I want to reiterate that transformation doesn’t need to wait until tomorrow. It certainly isn’t anything about what was going on yesterday. Right? And it’s not even what’s going to happen later today. It’s about what’s going on right now. You can make a better choice, you can have a better thought right now. So don’t wait. Take a small step. You’ve totally got this. And until next time, choose peace. Thank you for listening to breaking the bottle legacy. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Take something that you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible. You have the power to change your relationship with alcohol. Now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com